Captain Nichola Goddard
Calgarian Nichola Goddard was a citizen of the world. Born in Papua New Guinea to parents who believed in the transformative power of learning, she grew up in far-flung locales across Canada and around the globe, where her mother and father dedicated their lives to international development work focused on building local education systems. When the time came to set her course in life, Nichola chose to effect change in a different way – she joined the military. Nichola’s biography by Calgary writer Val Fortney recounts conversations Nichola had with her father Tim Goddard, where she asserted that before aid and development workers could begin to do their work to help rebuild, the military was often needed to sow the seeds of stability in unstable places.
“I do what I do, so you can do what you do,” Nichola said. She completed officer training and rose to the rank of Captain over the course of her 8-year career in the military. A Globe and Mail article written by her mother, Sally Goddard, showcases the thoughtful leadership style Nichola displayed.
At one point during her training, soldiers were required to walk carrying either a heavy bag or a so-called “girlie” bag. When Nichola saw that every trainee was selecting the heavy bag, risking injury in some cases, she spoke up. “No one wanted to be caught carrying the ‘girlie’ bag,” Sally Goddard writes. “Nichola suggested to the sergeant that he rename the bag, explaining her reasons. He immediately complied with her request.”
In another instance Nichola successfully advocated up the chain of command for more inclusive wording for the marriage services in the military handbook when two men under her command asked that she officiate at their wedding.
In early May 2006, on active combat duty in Afghanistan, she wrote to her husband Jason Beam, expressing her care and worry for the wellbeing of the soldiers under her command.
On May 17, 2006 Capt. Nichola Goddard was killed while leading a military operation to capture members of the Taliban on the outskirts of Kandahar, the first female Canadian soldier to die in combat.